Thursday, August 27, 2015

WE KNOW IT'S A PROBLEM, NOW WHAT?

Being diagnosed with any disease or disorder is at the very least troubling and can be utterly devastating. Most of the time it is rather definitive and you prepare yourself for health maintenance or full recovery. The doctors tell you what you need to do to "win the battle."

Alcoholism and Addiction do not have such clear instructions. You aren't given odds. You aren't given a manual. In fact, the diagnosis is extremely tricky. The trip to the doctor isn't triggered by new symptoms, it's only spawned by a self-admission. An admission by someone whose judgement has been clouded by the substance they are abusing. It's extremely complicated. 

If you are able to admit this very difficult reality to yourself and family, how do you get better? If your doctor has diagnosed you with Diabetes, you take insulin and watch your diet. If you have cancer, you prepare yourself for the battle of your life and undergo whichever treatment plan that will help you survive.

When you're an addict, you don't always have the support from friends and family. What's more is that there is no judging cancer. Nor does anyone belittle diabetes. But people often judge addiction. There is a stigma - it is the black sheep of diseases. Many still believe it is a matter of choice, despite what the research has shown us regarding the disease. Many do not regard it as a serious medical condition, despite the declaration by American Medical Association (AMA) that alcoholism is a disease, all the way back in 1956.

About a week ago, I was contacted by a college friend, named Becky. She was expressing concern for a mutual friend, Chris, who she and some others suspect has a drug problem. She reached out to me on the basis of my experience working in the substance abuse field.

She told me the stories and described the shifts in his behavior. Based on what I heard, it seemed reasonable to think there was merit to her suspicions. So I decided to have a closer look.
I asked Chris to coffee. He blew me off three times. I wasn't surprised.

I then reached out to a few friends of his. They agreed that he has been acting strange lately and suspect some form of drug abuse.

Ok, now what? I really don't know his level of problem, nor am I close enough to him to definitively say whether or not he has a problem. I don't feel I have a right to call his parents and I don't really know who should confront him on this recent change in behavior.

Not long after, I had another conversation with Becky, the friend who originally expressed concern. She asked me to look into an intervention and since I know plenty of folks who work in this field, I said I would.

I spoke to a reputable interventionist who described the process and it is exactly what he and his family and friends need. Then the interventionist described the checklist for the intervention (you can view it here). And then the price. That was the moment, We had to ask ourselves, "now what?

None of us involved in the discussion is blood-related to Chris. In fact, most of us have drifted apart since college. It wouldn't be my place nor Becky's, to organize such an undertaking. The friends who are close, don't seem as concerned, or perhaps lack understanding of the serious nature of addiction.

The interventionist described things such as having an admission date, travel fees, writing letters, and of course the overall cost of the intervention and rehab. That's not exactly how it usually goes on television, where a group of friends arrange a circle of chairs, guy walks in and they express their feelings. He listens and agrees to stop abusing alcohol and they live happily ever after.

Nope. The real process is well-orchestrated, intensive and reliant on several factors. One of those factors involves a price tag ranging from $4,000 - $10,000, plus travel expenses. That's not even including the scheduled admission date into inpatient rehab, which can cost as little as $18,000 for the recommended length of stay, and up to $70,000 at 'luxury' facilities.

So again I ask, we know it's a problem, now what? 

My only conclusive advice to Becky, is to reach out to his parents. It's difficult, but a good start. We're lucky Chris has caring parents, who if informed about this issue, will do everything they can to get their son the help he needs. It's a complex disease and even more complicated to self-recognize symptoms. For others who do not have family support, it can be an endless cycle of denial.

If you see a friend or family member losing control of alcohol consumption or drug abuse, don't be shy. Talk to a family member, or call for help. Take the first step for the ones you love.

Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat offers a full continuum of care including: Acute Medical Detoxification, Rehabilitation, Residential, Partial Hospitalization and Recovery Residences.

Call Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat 866.273.0868 or visit our website.

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